Check that Label!
Consumers can take advantage of new food labels that were mandated in January of 2020. Labels were updated to include easier to read and user-friendly information such as larger print and the addition of two nutrients that are vital for good health: potassium and vitamin D. Updated labels will no longer have vitamins A and C listed as the risk for deficiency in those vitamins in the US is low.
Be Aware of Seasonal and Store Specials
To save the most while getting high-quality produce, be aware of store specials and what's in season. A recent survey by Vixxo asked over 1,260 American consumers to evaluate their purchasing preferences and attitudes about buying food. One of the key reasons is that most Americans (84%) prefer to pick and inspect their own products. The quality of the food was the most important factor according to 45% of shoppers. 1
Carrie Gabriel, MS, RD and owner of Steps2nutrition.com admits she is “old school and prefers traditional grocery shopping, meaning actually going to the grocery store, or multiple grocery stores and buying items I need. I like to see and touch my produce instead of relying on someone else to pick it out for me.”
Participants in the Vioxx survey cited consistency and quality of products as one of the top reasons why one store was chosen over another, in addition to variety of products and location of the store. 1
Jenna Volpe, RD, LD of Whole-istic living, states “when it comes to produce, we usually make small, frequent trips a few times a week to the mainstream supermarket closest to home, which is most convenient and cost-effective.”
Other reasons shoppers cite for going to the store regularly include discovering new products, store loyalty with coupon or gas perks and the social aspect of shopping. According to the Vioxx study, Millennials are three times more likely than other age groups to say they like the social interactions they have in grocery stores.1 Many of us run into neighbors or friends or get to know the grocery store staff when we frequent the same stores.
No Need to Stay on the Edges
We've all heard the advice to shop the perimeter of the store and “avoid” the middle aisles because the healthier and less processed foods are often on the perimeter. However, this advice is out of date. Most of us recognize that the bakery is on the perimeter and so is the deli. The smell of baking bread may encourage more impulse buys than a box of cereal would in the middle of the store.
There’s also plenty of nutritious food in the middle aisles. Consider whole grain breads and cereals, beans and bagged lentils, nuts and peanut butter and bagged whole grains such as quinoa or bulgur. Frozen vegetables and fruit are also healthful choices.
Beware of Impulse Buys
According to a recent survey of 2,000 consumers by Slickdeals.com, US consumers spend up to $450 per month or $5400 per year on impulse buys. Most impulse buys are related to food, which makes up over 70% of purchases.
Some tips for in-person shoppers to keep impulse purchases low and make healthy choices include:
- Make a list every time you shop. If cookies aren’t on the list, don’t buy them.
- Shop on a full stomach. Those treats at the front of the store look much less tempting if you’re not hungry.
- Continue to read nutrition labels for healthier choices.
- Use coupons only for things you’ll actually eat. Manufacturer coupons are often for highly-processed foods such as boxed dinners or chips.
- Buy seasonal produce. While everything under the sun is available now, seasonal produce will look and taste the best and be the most economical.
- Only bring enough money for what you need. This may keep the temptation to overbuy down.
- Download the store’s loyalty app to receive coupons and weekly ads.
By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.